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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inspiration--the Sneaky Bugger

It's almost frightening how easily my final project for CW is coming together. The characters have changed their skins so easily for this plot line that the ideas are flowing like crazy.  Ayden is a librarian (still), Sydney doesn't know what he wants to do quite just yet (maybe a teacher, but he likes the idea of carpentry, for some reason), Silas is a dojo owner/karate teacher, and the rest of the McKenna brothers (new characters created for this story) are forming their own personalities quite swiftly.
There is Arkady, the oldest McKenna boy, the first born, and he has aspirations to become a doctor. He's very stubborn about his role as the oldest, and sometimes thinks it necessary to upbraid his siblings (i.e. Silas, Ayden, Finn) for a lack of ambition. He means well and loves his family, but he can't forget growing up in the blue-collar class, which is why he wants to become a doctor.
Then there is Josef, the second oldest, who decided to join the army as a way of escaping the family neighborhood. He's not as rigid as Arkady (surprisingly) but he's the calm, peace-keeping mediator of the arguments between his siblings. For being in the army, Josef turning out to be more laid-back than I first thought, and he helps the younger siblings with their own personal goals.
Then there are the twins, Dante and Matteo, fun-loving and mischievous. They're lackadaisical, prank-playing and not impressed by Arkady and Josef's more lofty ambitions. They want to become stage magicians, or more accurately, flourishers, which is a fancy name for card dealers and their tricks. They rag on their siblings mercilessly, but will be the first to defend them from outsiders.
Silas, Ayden's favorite brother, as aforesaid, is a karate teacher/dojo owner. He still maintains the blunt, sarcastic, cynical personality I first imagined him with, but he's got a streak of pragmatic practicality to off-set the older boys. He's not as loud as Dante or Matteo, but he can be called upon to set Arkady in his place if his ambitions start running away from him.
And then the final brother, Ayden's second partner-in-crime, Finn, the artistic, sensitive, musically inclined one in this bunch. He encourages Ayden's desire to write and has plans to become a professional singer/guitarist when he gets older. He also has a edge of mad recklessness that worries his whole family and a quietly wicked sense of humor that Ayden and Silas share.
So there they are, the McKenna boys, and not a moment to spare, because I'm going to start writing this one in earnest--and who know where it will end up?    
Over & Out,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Thoughts

So, quick housekeeping--after some thought, the story now takes place in just Connecticut, as opposed to New York City and Connecticut at once. It makes more sense to have it set in one place than having my characters drive every which where. Plus, being a West Coast girl and never having gone to the East Coast, it cuts down on any mistakes I might make when researching. Google only does so much. New York City will still be making an appearance, though.  
Ayden and Sydney will have, at the very least, a memorable first meeting. They don't even know the other existed by default, though Sydney vaguely recalls Liam (Ayden's grandfather) mentioning a granddaughter. Not that ever made an impact on Sydney, but he still doesn't know anything about her. (Ayden takes great offense to this and Sydney insists that it was not his fault that he wasn't paying attention.)
So here comes the great main root of the story--why is Sydney at Halcyon House? What is he running from? Why did Liam let him stay there? Does he have family? Do they know that he's there?Why the Halcyon House? What secrets is he keeping, and for that matter, what secrets does Halcyon House keep about the McKenna clan?
This is the fun part about writing a story like this. You can let the characters take you away on this journey as they tell you the story of their lives. "This is what happened to me, and I want you to write it," is the constant refrain in my head as I navigate the narrative. Sometimes it flows so naturally, so beautifully it's like waking up out of a wonderful dream when you're done. You look back on what you've written and you're like, "Wow, did all of that just come out of my head?"
Of course, the trouble with having such strong-willed characters like Ayden or Sydney or even Silas is that they have their own very definite ideas as to where the story should go. And you, as the writer, have the choice to submit to their whims or impose your will on them. Now, if you submit to the will of your characters, this can lead to a very character-driven story which can be very fun to write--and sometimes a clunky mess. Unfinished plot-lines, unresolved issues, loose ends by the boat load. So you can impose your will on them instead, and that leads to the story where you want it go--but the characters will sulk magnificently because they think you've given them the short shrift.
So where does this leave you, the narrator?
Let your characters talk, but don't let them steal the show. This is still your story that you're writing. You need to figure out where it goes and what it does and not let the overwhelming force of nature that are your characters browbeat you into compliance. And also, if a absolutely wonderful idea comes to you in one of those rare but brilliant "Eureka!" flashes, write it down before you forget--seriously, it will drive you absolutely crazy later if you don't remember it! 
So that's my advice to any aspiring writers who happen to scanning this. Good luck with any and all of your works!
Over & Out,

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Brief Excerpt

The following is a short extract from my creative writing final project, still untitled. Tenative idea: The Halcyon House. Any other ideas?
* * *
I could see outside the glass doors that it was a beautiful day, sunny and bright, heralding a beautiful summer. Students were milling about, here and there, along with locals and tourists. And what was I doing? Moldering in run-down building too full of silent books with long-dead authors with lots of pithy sayings and wisdom that could offer no advice for my current predicament.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my coat off the chair behind the librarian’s desk and went to the facility lounge, where my bag was. Rebecca, the other librarian on duty was there, sipping a coffee and reading something on her Kindle. I felt my lip curl up in silent derision. As far as I was concerned, a book wasn’t a book unless it has pages, bindings and a cover. There was no point in an electronic device that essentially turned the pages for you. “Rebecca,” I told her, “Something came up with the lawyers—I need to check on it.”
She looked up, startled by my brusque and curt tone. “Um, okay…do you want me to run the front desk?”
I nodded briskly. “I’d be much obliged if you did. I’ll call you if I’m going to be back, okay?”
I’ll admit I didn’t give her a chance to respond; I just hurried out before she could say anything. I grabbed my bag from the cubbyhole and was out of there like a bat from hell, my bag hitting my hip as I moved. The sunlight and fresh air once I got outside was overwhelming for a moment, but I barreled on, too impatient to give myself time to adjust. I have no idea what I looked like to the passersby—a librarian escaping the library, almost running down the quad with her hair coming out its neat bun and her neat white shirt coming untucked from her black wool trousers. I didn’t slow down until I reached an empty bench a good distance away from the library. I sat down with a thump, breathing hard and feeling my shirt stick damply to my chest, pieces of hair coming out the bun I had so painstakingly twisted at the back of my head this morning. I stayed where I was a few moments, letting a breeze cool me down. The green lawns and people walking their dogs, lazing in the sun, or talking with their friends seemed foreign and remote after being in the library so long.
I killed time for bit, dug through my purse for gum, finding dry pens, empty notepads and old receipts, but no gum. Then I watched the people around me for a bit, doing the airport game, imagining their stories and their lives. My cell phone was blessedly silent.
I stalled for as long as I could, before finally coming to the decision I had so studiously avoided the entire week. For the entire month since that horrible day back in May, when my life started to crack and strain under pressure. I pulled out my cell phone and stared at it for a few long moments, as if it would speak to me and offer some advice. Then I gave up and dialed the number I had been dodging all week. I held it my ear and waited for one ring, two rings, and then three. Then the line picked up and I replied to the greeting, “Hello, my name is Ayden McKenna. I believe Mr. Magnus Fletcher is trying to get a hold of me?”
* * *
That's all you're getting until I work on it more. Thoughts?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taking Title Suggestions

This is the inspiration for Ayden's house. It's bigger in my head.

My Creative Writing class at SJCC requires a final project handed in on the last day of class, a piece of original fiction, poetry, or drama. My intended piece features all three characters the previous entry mentioned (Ayden, Sydney, Silas), only set in a "real world"setting--no magic or secret societies or seventh-born gifts. The characters are all "human" and it takes place in New York City and Connecticut. I had intended to put it in the Hamptons (the only really high-end setting I could think of), but Michelle, my CW professor, suggested Connecticut instead. Since she's from New York originally, I decided to take the advice from someone who actually is from the East Coast. So Connecticut it is. (Lots of research required for this one.) The real differences between this story and my own fantasy works is changing Ayden's last name from Fletcher to McKenna and giving Ayden six older brothers instead of both brothers and sisters. I also mention her parents a lot more, even giving them names, Gregor and Natalia, and ethnic backgrounds--Irish-Italian, Russian-Romanian. Ayden has a family history now, a tangled, intense one, as opposed to The Seventh-born Chronicles, where Ayden and Silas seem to have sprung from the ground fully grown.  
The main premise of this story is this: Ayden is a librarian/aspiring writer in New York City. Her life is quiet, but contented. But her paternal grandfather dies suddenly, and Ayden discovers that he left her a house--one she had no idea existed until his death. It's a Victorian, Queen-Anne style mansion in the Connecticut country side. Ayden's grandfather, Liam McKenna, also left her a lot of money so she could renovate the house, which her family suggests she use to help them with their money problem. Ayden insists that she uses it for the intended purpose, fixing the house. She departs for Connecticut, amid a lot of tension and derision from her family. When she arrives, Ayden sees that it's falling apart and it's also home to a tenant: one Sydney Jenkins, the son of an old friend of her grandfather and coming to terms with a recent tragic accident. Ayden plans to fix up the house and sell it, hoping to help with her family's finances. Sydney takes offense to the plan, and after a lot conflict, they agree to fix up the house, and come to an agreement once the house is fully furnished. So begins my first "realistic fiction" story.  I still have no idea what I'm going to call it, but as the title of today's entry suggests, I'm open to suggestions.
So, any thoughts, people? I'm looking forward to hearing from all four of you! (Or more, if anyone accepts the invitations I sent out.)
Over & Out,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Players of the Drama

The characters in question for The Seventh-Born Chronicles are the process of an overactive imagination and too much time on my hands. They are, as follows:

Ayden Grace Fletcher: seventh-born and the heroine of the story. She is basically everything I would like to be (if I wasn't myself) and my favorite character (authors are allowed to have favorites, unlike parents). Her age changes with me (I was seventeen when I started writing, and so was Ayden, now she is nineteen like myself) and her appearance reflects whatever I think is appropriate for her personality. At the moment, she's a redhead. That will probably stay the same for the rest of the story. Literature needs more fiery redheaded heroines. Ayden is intelligent, strong-willed, and in her own terms, very sensible. She dislikes surprises and is not fully reconciled with her gifts as a seventh-born.

Sydney Jenkins: Wizard and secondary main character. Around these two the story circulates. Sydney is essentially an amalgam of the heroes of all my favorite books, with a lot inspiration from my oldest brother Aaron. I know it might seem to some people I've saddled Ayden with a boy's name and Sydney with a girl's, but Sydney's name is taken from Charles Dickens' immortal Sydney Carton, the hero (because it definitely wasn't Charles Darnay or Lucie Manette) from A Tale of Two Cities. Sydney Carton was my favorite character and I liked the careless, charming, reprobate aspect. Dickens' Sydney always reminded me of a con man, and I will always prefer a charming rogue to a brooding hero (they have no sense of humor). On another note, I couldn't very well name him Edward, since Mrs. Meyer already has the copyrights to that. But that's another blog entry for another time. Sydney has no qualms about driving Ayden crazy (he thinks it's funny) and is fiercely protective of her (and this drives Ayden crazy too). They spend their days arguing far more than anything else.

Silas Moses Fletcher: Ayden's older brother. Silas's original name was Senri, but as time went by, I realized it didn't make much sense to give Ayden an Irish name and her older brother a Japanese one. So after much deliberation, I decided on Silas, because I liked the Biblical aspect and the sound of it: it fit in well with his personality. Again, Silas is an expy of  Aaron, only more of a jerk (sorry, bro) and with a black belt in karate. He is very protective of his sister and is usually at odds with Sydney more often than not. He is sarcastic, blunt, and more cynical than his sister about her magical gift. Silas doesn't believe in magic at all. (But as Silas finds out, sometimes you have to face a nightmare to wake up from denial.)

These are the three main characters on whom the third story will relate to. The first two stories were done entirely in Ayden's point of view, and Sydney and Silas wanted a chance to say something in the third installment.  They wouldn't leave me alone about it for almost three weeks until I caved.
So there you have it. The Players of the Drama, as it were, and their adventures, believe me, are just beginning.
Over And Out,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Long-Awaited Explanation

Since no one but me understands the name of my blog and it's only fair to offer some kind of explanation, it comes from the title of a sequence of novels I've been working on for the past two/three years, since the winter of '08. They are fantasy novels, set in the real world (I'm not quite up to making up and creating my own world a la Tolkien and Lewis just yet), starring one Ayden Grace Fletcher (last name due to change soon) and the circumstances surrounding her birth, the seventh-child of a seventh-child. Traditionally, there has always been some special significance applied to the number seven, and the seventh-born child superstition was one that easily applied itself to my character, and open to interpretation to an aspiring writer like myself.
With that said, the original title of the story was "Panic! On a Winter's Night" because I thought it sounded hip and relevant, as my high school Bible teacher Mr. Cummings used to say, like the name of that band I've never listened to, "Panic at the Disco."  But as the story progressed and I realized Ayden & Co. simply wouldn't be satisfied with only one measly installment and they all had insisted to stretch it out to three, I knew name checks were in order. And it turned out that "Panic! On a Winter's Night" proved very difficult to come up with two other follow-up acts, such as "Disaster! On a Spring Evening" and something along the lines of "Catastrophe! On A Summer's Day" (though I never actually got that far in picking out names).
You see my problem.
So, keeping in with the changing-season theme, I changed "Panic!" to "Tale the First: Midwinter's Day," and the second and third installments are "Tale the Second: Midsummer's Night" and "Tale the Third: All Hallows Eve," respectively. And it seems to have worked out pretty well so far. The Seventh-Born Chronicles are still are work in progress (the third installment is giving me some trouble) and I hope to make some serious progress by the end of the year. 
And a word of warning: when given the chance, I'm going to talk about my stories as often and for as long as I can, so be prepared for a lot of introspective musings. If that's not your cup of tea, go text someone.
(Sorry. This blog is a text-speak/Web-slang free zone, where those who frequent are expected to use the actual ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Yes, I'm slightly sensitive about it. You're talking to a future novelist and librarian here.)
Over And Out,

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Is Just A Test

Well, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue this, to be honest. I started it up on a whim (in the middle of a class, no less) and might take it down just as suddenly. The main point of this blog, so near as I can figure it, is for me to hammer out the details of my works-in-progress and do some serious thinking about any other projects that happen to pop up. If it doesn't work out, no harm done. If it does, then anyone with a greater grasp on blogs and design and things is more than welcome to help me out and offer their expertise.
Until next time, I remain your determined blog master,

New Beginnings

Hello, People of the World. I have no idea if this is going to keep up or not, but if it does, let me say welcome and maybe I'll talk to you all soon.